So it's that time of year when I'm in and out of my car constantly, to one sister's house for Christmas Eve, to my brother's in-laws' house for Christmas Day, to my other sister's house for family gift day tomorrow...and every time I get out of my car, which I leave in the parking lot across the street from my house, I see the Sacred Heart Church.
Abandoned. Empty. Decrepit. Cold. Lifeless. Dead.
And I wonder why nobody ever told me this might happen.
And I wonder if I should be angry.
Or all of the above.
I think all of the above is what I am, although understanding sits very low on that particular list of reactions. I understand, because it's very clear to me why the church building is no longer viable. There are all kinds of variations and tangents of explanation that can be applied to this issue. I'm going with "mismanagement."
Not of this building in particular. I think it was managed quite well over the years by a number of different men who took their responsibility seriously. Middle-managers who were probably, in a lot of cases, much smarter than their superiors, but because one of the principal functions of their position was to obey, and because they were responsible individuals who took their job seriously, they obeyed.
And look what happened.
So when I step out of my car in the parking lot, and when I look at the church building and the convent to its right and the rectory to its left--all Abandoned. Empty. Decrepit. Cold. Lifeless. Dead.--my initial, immediate, visceral reaction is that I have been let down hard. Were I to voice that reaction to those in charge now, I would be reminded that another, newer building has assimilated the congregation of the now empty Sacred Heart Church, and I will say, not really.
Because there was a promise made in, and by, that building, and the aura that surrounded it, that has gone unfulfilled, and a new building, in another part of town, is not going to remedy that. With that broken promise, hordes of parishioners have abandoned not only the building, but also the institution. And those of us who have not abandoned the institution are still waiting, I believe, for an explanation that makes sense.
Of course, it is time that has dealt the most powerful sledge hammer to the church and the Church. I recognize that.
But, sad to say, it is some of the people who called and who still call the shots who have inflicted the most severe damage.
So when I step out of my car in the parking lot, I am, for a split second, angry at the building I see. But then I remember what it meant to me as I was growing up, how vital it was, how friendly its people were, how much energy it engendered, how much future it promised, and sincerely promised, and I am no longer angry at the building. Because what it was made me who I am, and that's not the worst thing in the world.
The worst thing in the world is that it's not doing that for this or future generations.
And whose fault is that?